Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
When he sets out to transform chicken, seafood, and certified Angus steaks into full meals, Dodge City Distillery's chef Jim Whiskey first marinates the cuts in house-made spirits before cooking them over the smoke that waltzes slowly from a slow-burning mesquite-hickory grill. Owners Derek Betz and Joe Effertz set out to celebrate Dodge City's frontier history with a nod to its origins as a whiskey depot, melding a full distillery with a restaurant serving Western and Southwest-inspired recipes. Tight-knit teams of servers, sometimes clad in cowboy hats and boots and riding invisible horses, bear dishes made daily from scratch as they navigate wood tables between the warm, brick walls of the main dining room. A map marking the Santa Fe Trail through Dodge City spreads across one wall, and an antique safe from the 1840s dominates the center of the dining space. The surprisingly sweet smell of the smoky spirit drifts from the stacked whiskey barrels that form a wall arching over the bar's 16 flat-screen TVs, which display college and professional football and basketball games. In keeping with the outdoorsy frontier mindset, Dodge City pursues several environmentally friendly initiatives and uses recycled glassware, cardboard, and water, some of which is collected through a runoff system on the roof or left out in saucers for thirsty tumbleweeds.
The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt rejects the oft-touted claim that Americans don?t care about nutrition. The problem, they say, has more to do with selection than anything else; most low-calorie sweets don?t hold a candle to a fudge brownie or a warm slice of apple pie. They kept this in mind when crafting their frozen-yogurt recipes, working tirelessly to develop a healthy?and equally delicious?alternative to the dessert status quo by turning to decadent confections and just-picked fruits for inspiration.
Their experiments thus far have yielded more than 60 frozen yogurt flavors, which take turns pumping through the self-serve machines that line their colorful shop?s wall. Before taking a seat in a bright orange chair, guests fill their dishes with cool, low-fat swirls of chocolate cheesecake, strawberry banana, and a classic tart that bites as pleasantly as a teething kitten. Juicy pears, crunchy granola, and gooey chocolate sauce headline a smorgasbord of at least 30 toppings ready to scooped or poured into cups before their final weigh-in.
Jim Sheridan's custard shop is packed with old-fashioned nostalgia. And it's not just the decor ? Sheridan's desire to create and sell custard sparked from his own childhood memories of adventuring to upstate New York to get his hands on the frozen treat. Now at Sheridan's Frozen Custard, Jim not only opts to incorporate creamy chocolate and vanilla flavors topped with everything from mangoes to graham crackers to a variety candies, but he views the real cherry on top as top-grade customer service. Caramel pretzel crunch concretes, fresh-baked strawberry shortcake Sundays, and cookie dough pies further satisfy sweet tooths. For those who prefer a straw to a spoon, the shop's shakes, malts, and smoothies are there for the sipping.
After years of perfecting those frozen treats Jim set out to conquer the world of burgers. To do so, he pulled from the same old-fashioned recipe book that inspired his sweet treats. The Olathe location's new food menu is filled with American favorites, from grilled-to-order steakburgers to hand-cut fries dusted with a kiss of salt. No matter the order, each meal is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including grass-fed beef. Visitors can settle down at tables to enjoy their burgers and sandwiches or grab them to go at the convenient drive-thru.
Smokehouse Bar-B-Que’s dinner and lunch menus satisfy cravings across the protein spectrum with a selection of hickory-smoked beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. High-quality cuts mingle between the Junior Smokehouse’s sesame-seed buns ($8.45), which grant diners a choice of two savories such as beef brisket, polish sausage, or time-traveling triceratops shank. The Monterey chicken's 8-ounce grilled breast nestles in a corn-dust bun alongside its eponymous cheese, ham, bacon, and dijon-mustard bedmates ($9.25), and chefs catapult a 16-ounce whole catfish through a Cajun-sauce and lemon-butter waterfall before bringing it in to land gently next to a house salad and choice of side ($14.95). Also flanked by a patron-preferred side dish, the Kansas City Strip rolls a 12-ounce certified Angus beef steak down sizzling hickory logs and into eagerly awaiting mouths ($23.95).
Kolache Factory takes its namesake traditionally fruit-filled Eastern European pastry and expands its filling horizons to stretch from breakfast to dinner. Though some breakfast kolaches still contain the standard fruit fillings, such as lemon, strawberry, and apricot, they’re joined by more creative combinations such as sausage and cheese or chocolate cream cheese. Lunch and dinner pastries hold hearts of polish sausage, barbecue beef, and jalapeno cheddar. Kolache Factory also bakes other pastries including cinnamon rolls and strudel and sells party trays of its signature creations for gatherings or Y3K freezer stockpiles.